MJ Academic of the Week 4/12 – Michael Jackson


Who is a Michael Jackson Academic?

Someone who 1) views Michael Jackson as an artist 2) studies his art and writes critical discourse on it 3) values this body of work for its significant cultural impact in the twenty-first century.



©1987 Unknown

Who? Artist, activist, singer, performer, dancer, writer, composer, producer and director. Also known as the maestro for orchestrating several mediums over a 40-year career.

Why? There’s an odd preconception that Michael Jackson didn’t write much about being himself. This is thoroughly untrue. My reference list boasts at least 120 sources of books, notes, albums, short films, films and interviews which form the essence of who Michael was.

Often painfully honest with himself and his fans, he always responded to questions with both humility and distinction. He was the reason he became so successful. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that he had a rare wisdom and an equally rare ability to put himself in other people’s shoes. There is so much to learn if you ‘study the greatest’.

Where? Although Michael left this world in 2009, you can still find him in his music and short films, listed under Primary Sources.

Greatest Hits – Dancing The Dream, Moonwalk & HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I


The three single most important offerings on who Michael Jackson was, what he loved and why he made his music and films are his autobiography, Moonwalk; his book of essays and poems, Dancing The Dream and his ninth studio album, HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I.

Reading List:

Jackson, Michael Joseph:

–        Invincible. Michael Jackson. Exec. Prod. Michael Jackson, CD, 4951742000 (2001): Speechless, You Are My Life

–        Blood on the Dancefloor: HIStory in the Mix. Michael Jackson. Prod. Michael Jackson, CD, 68000 – EK/ET/EM (1995): Morphine

–        HIStory Past, Present and Future Book 1. Michael Jackson. Exec. Prod. Michael Jackson, CD, 59000 – E2K/E2T/E2M (1995): Earth Song, HIStory, Stranger In Moscow, Tabloid Junkie, Childhood

–        Dangerous. Michael Jackson. Exec. Prod. Michael Jackson, CD, 45400 – EK/ET/EM (1991): Heal the World, Why You Wanna Trip On Me, Keep The Faith

The Jacksons:

–        Triumph. The Jacksons. Prod. The Jacksons, Vinyl, EPC 32366 (1980): This Place Hotel

–        Destiny. The Jacksons. Prod. The Jacksons, Vinyl, EPC 83200 (1978): That’s What You Get (For Being Polite)

Films & Short Films

Michael Jackson’s Private Home Movies (Fox Television Network, 2003)

Michael Jackson: The Making of Ghosts. VH1. 1997

Stranger in Moscow, dir. Nicholas Brandt (1996)

Childhood, dir. Nicholas Brandt (1995)

Earth Song, dir. Nicholas Brandt (1995)

Scream, dir.Mark Romanek (1995)

Stark Raving Dad – The Simpsons Season 3, dir. Rich Moore (Twentieth Century Fox, 1992) [on DVD]

Leave Me Alone, dir. Jim Blashfield (1989)

Moonwalker, dirs. Jerry Kramer, Jim Blashfield and Colin Chilvers (MJJ Productions, 1988) [on DVD]

Man in the Mirror, dir. Donald Wilson (1988)

The Making of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, dir. Jerry Kramer(Optimum Productions/Vestron Video, 1983) [on VHS]

Bad, dir. Martin Scorsese (1987)

Books and Notes

Jackson, Michael Joseph:

HIStory Past, Present and Future Book 1 (Liner Notes). MJJ Productions. Epic. 1995

– ‘A 1994 Open Letter from Michael Jackson to his critics’, Michael Jackson: A Visual Documentary. The Official Tribute Edition (ed.) Adrian Grant (Omnibus, 2009)

Nourish This Child, an introduction to Pigtails and Frog’s Legs, Neiman Marcus (Neiman Marcus, 1993)

– Dancing the Dream: Poems and Reflections (London: Doubleday, 1992)

Moonwalk (London: Doubleday, 1988)

Moonwalker The Storybook (Heinemann, 1988)

Interviews & Speeches

‘Twenty-Five Years After Thriller’, Ebony. December 2007

‘Heal the Kids’, Oxford Union. 6 March 2001

PREVIOUS ACADEMICS: Joseph Vogel, Syl Mortilla, Adrian Grant

COMING SOON: Barbara KauffmanJeremy Gilbert, Michael Bush, Armond White, Susan Fast, Zack O. Greenburg, Charles Thomson, Willa Stillwater & Joie Collins, Bonus Track – MJ Academics of Note

Start your Study of Michael Jackson here

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Have you read and researched Michael? Share your story in the comments.